Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet reshuffle today turned the spotlight on BJP’s efforts at balancing caste equations in Rajasthan, party leaders here said. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore replaced Vijay Goel in the Sports Ministry, while also remaining the MoS in the I&B Ministry. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has been inducted as MoS in agriculture. This highlights the importance of Rajput vote for the BJP, they said.
Both the parliamentarians were given roles in the rejig as the party had received negative publicity in the Rajput community after gangster Anandpal Singh was killed in police encounter, a BJP insider said.
Thousands of Rajputs who had gathered at the gangster’s native Sanwrad village in Nagaur district had vowed to not vote for BJP in 2018 assembly elections.
Rathore (47) and Shekhawat (49) are Rajputs, and the moves are being seen as efforts by the party to keep the community in its fold for the upcoming state assembly elections as well as the general elections scheduled in 2019. Rajputs have been traditionally BJP loyalists and constitute 8-10 per cent of the voters in the state and at present there are 28 Rajput MLAs in Rajasthan.
Perhaps keeping this factor in mind ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Shekhawat was picked up from Marwar region and Rathore from Jaipur rural parliamentary constituency, a BJP member here said.
Moreover, both the MPs are highly educated, comparatively younger and have been considered for significant assignments in keeping with their tech-savvy nature and popularity among youngsters, he added. “There will be a greater role of Rajasthan in the Parliament. Sports and agriculture will get importance.
“Rathore can fuel energy in development of sports in the state whereas Shekhawat who was national general secretary of BJP’s Kisan Morcha can proactively understand the issues of farmers and highlight the issues,” state BJP spokesperson, Anand Sharma said. He said that both are diligent, competent and have impressed the leadership with their non-controversial style of functioning.